Optical Boutique Embraces Community Culture by Supporting Local Artists

Susie Sykes, owner of Eyes On Main optical boutique, supports local artists by exhibiting their work for free.
The gallery lighting at Eyes On Main is perfect for displaying both eyewear and art. Currently, Bob Friday’s photography hangs on the walls. SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Since 1986, eyewear enthusiast Susie Sykes has owned her optical boutique, Eyes On Main, which is just a short walk away from beautiful Venice Beach. Although her main focus is providing fashionable eyewear and specialty lenses for her customers, the blank, white walls of Eyes On Main reveal another one of her interests—art.

At any given time, Sykes will have various pieces from local artists displayed all around her store. Since the Eyes On Main’s location was once an art gallery, the layout of the store is perfect for exhibiting artwork. Although the location now hosts shelves of eyewear from all over the world and an onsite finishing lab, the artwork that dots the walls keeps the spirit of the art gallery alive.

“Most of the artists we support are longtime customers—they have become like family over the years,” explained Sykes. “Venice has long been a very artistic community, so we get plenty of customers who really appreciate the artwork.”

Although all the artwork that Sykes displays is for sale, she doesn’t take any commissions from the artist. “We use the artwork to enhance our store and to promote the artist’s work,” said Sykes. “All we ask is that the artist hang their own work, provide us with a price list and, when it is time to take down their art, spackle any holes that they made on the walls.”

Sykes even goes so far as to host receptions at Eyes On Main so that people can personally meet the artist. Most recently, photographer and customer Bob Friday debuted his photography series “73 Days in Paris” at a reception in July.

“The art receptions at Eyes On Main are always very classy,” commented Friday. “And eyeglass frames are kind of pieces of art themselves, so it’s always interesting to show them alongside the works of local artists.”

Local artwork can be seen all over Eyes On Main’s Facebook page as well, either beautifully paired with frames to enhance the boutique’s products or advertising the newest collection of local artwork.

“Everyone seems to love seeing the store transform every few months,” said Sykes. “Oftentimes, someone is drawn into the store by a painting or photograph, and then drawn to a pair of frames that they just have to have—we can sell them both.”

The relationship that Sykes has with local artists benefits both the artists and her business, but it’s also great for the staff’s morale. “We are lucky to be surrounded by such beautiful works,” concluded Sykes.

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